Due to my work I am now required to spend a lot of time in Europe, and have a base office in Torino, in the Piemonte region of Northern Italy, and June 25th & 26th was my first weekend there.
Having been away from shotgunning for almost 10 days, I was starting to have withdrawn syndrome and really started to get desperate to find a place to shoot. On the Saturday morning I visited a local gun shop and was somewhat discouraged to find out that without an Italian gun permit I would not be allowed to shoot in any place.
I decided to investigate further and started surfing the internet and calling what looked like gun clubs around Torino. Most phone numbers would not answer, but suddenly I had a call back. It was Mr. Giuseppe (Pino) Facchini, president of the Federazione Italiana Tiro a Volo – Comitato Regionale de Piemonte (www.fitavpiemonte.it), and he was most welcoming. He invitated me to meet him at the Tiro a Volo (TAV) Racconigi, about 40 minutes from my hotel towards the South, at around 3:30 PM.
Once I got there I felt immediately at home, shooters being nice great people wherever you meet then. I met Mr. Facchini and his son Rocco who introduced me to a number of people, including Mr. Franco Allasia, the club president. Then they started discussing about the Italian rules and what would be required to allow me to shoot. I mentioned that I had a Michigan Concealed Pistol License, and all questions were gone (Note to travelers: Never leave home without your CPL.)
Mr. Facchini went to his car, got his personal gun, a highly engraved Beretta DT-10, handled it to me along two boxes of 28 grams (one ounce) 12 gauge shells and ushered me to the firing line. I felt obliged to do so, among other reason, because Stan Bell ordered me to shoot International Trap as soon as I got to Europe.
TAV Racconigi is located at the campagna (any agricultural region), by the Frazione (village) Tagliata, and has three International Trap (Fossa Olimpica) fields, one of each has skeet stations. All the firing positions are covered, so the shooter can be comfortable under the hot summer sun, or other inclement weather. There is a high level of automation, shooters use an electronic card (similar to our own proximity cards) to pay for the rounds, and all fieds have electronic scoring systems that report the results real time to the club house.
International Trap is a very dynamic game. A full squad consists of six shooters that are allowed to shoot twice at each bird (perfect for Tony South), so we take fifty shells to the firing line. The squad rotates after each shot, and continuous shooting as the person from station 5 walks back to station 1. A good score is 22 or 23 breaks, and I saw a couple 24’s.
After the first series with the DT-10 Mr. Facchini thought that the comb was too high for me, a “typical hunter”, in his own words. So he exchanged my gun for a gorgeous Beretta SO3. Oh, the hardship of having to use an over-under! And I shot two more complete rounds. There was a certain hard left rising bird that would challenge even an accomplished shotgunner as our own president and glorious spiritual guide, Mr. William Berghuis.
As a general note on shotguns, all were over-unders, most of then 12 gauge (I only saw one 20 gauge) with fairly wide ribs. Most guns had adjustable combs and none had ported barrels. Beretta apparently has the lionshare of the market, but there were quite a number of Perazzi.
The cost of shooting is € 5,00 (US$ 7.00) per box of shells (you require two boxes per round, and most shooters take two shots per bird) and € 6,00 (US$ 8.40) per round of 25 targets.
Before Bill started rumors about how bad I must have shot, I will tell you myself. I broke 26 birds on the first shot (I know that because I only used 124 shells for 75 birds), and probably broke around 35 on the second shot. Shooting trap and shooting with a pre-mounted gun is unusual for me, so I have as good an excuse as any.
On Sunday I went back to watch an official match, and I believe that there were around 100 shooters present, with a good distribution in age groups as well as several women. I arrived at lunch time which was being served at the club house. Besides the great piemontese food, many of the shooters were enjoying the local wine or beer, which in moderation is considered no barrier to continue to shoot.
Mr. Facchini inveted me to visit TAV Settimo Torinese next Saturday, and by then, I may be a new member of FITAV-Piemonte.
I will try to keep you posted as I discover more about “gunning” in Europe.